Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Cosmetic Industry Starting a cosmetic line Need help understanding the process of hiring a chemist

  • Need help understanding the process of hiring a chemist

    Posted by Anonymous on June 9, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    Hi, everybody I have been following this form for a couple years now. I would like to hire a chemist on contract to help with the formulation of some products. I have done a lot of research and have played around with some of my own formulas, but nothing compares to the knowledge and experience that many of you have on this form. I realize that creating formulas and manufacturing my own products is an expensive and time consuming process, and I would like some advise with the process. I have tried private label products, and have looked into companies that will formulate and package products for you. I would much rather create my own.

    -When hiring a chemist to make a formula what is included?

    -I have done quite a bit of research on the ingredients I would like in the products. No it is not the “all natural” “organic” that everybody is after. I would like to use certain oils, waxes and surfactants.  This may make the job easier, or harder. If I wasn’t picky about the ingredients I would of chose a private label company to buy from. 

    -I would assume that stability,microbial testing, and impurity testing would be included. It would include an MSDS, CPSR to sell in Europe, and the paperwork to show that the product is safe for use in case somebody decides to sue the company. Would this include testing the product in the chosen type of plastic the container would be sold in. 

    _Time from start to finish. I only know the basics of testing. The actual formulating I would assume would to take a few months. The testing I believe is a year?

    -I need help on finding suppliers for the ingredients. The self life of the products vary and would need to find a supplier that does not sell products close to their expiration date. It is also important to make sure that the ingredients are of quality and are not contaminated. Also some ingredients like DHA (Dihydroxyacetone), and urea are more expensive and harder to find. I would assume that formulators have more experience and could offer
    guidance on this issue. 

    -Patent information. The ideas and the rough draft of the formulas I have are more simplistic. I do not believe interfere with any patents, but again I am not an expert and do not know what patents are out there.

    -Ownership of formula. If I hire somebody to create a formula I want to own the formula. Is this a common practice? It seams that filling companies own the formula if they create it. 

    _ The cost of service. I have heard $3,000 to formulate a product and up to $10,000 to copy a product. I don’t want to get riped off, but at the same time I do value the work being done. A lot of the products I would like to create contain a lot of the same ingredients, and only require changing the percentages in the formula. I understand that the same amount of testing is required, but the formulation will be easier. For example different lotions with varying oil/wax percentages. Spray tan solution with different percentages of DHA. Cleansers with the same surfectants, but different consistencies. 

    -Where to find a chemist. I feel a bit weird meeting somebody online and handing over a deposit. I would also like to work with someone and decide on the ingredients together. Where at the bigger companies I do not feel like this would be possible. I also need help with suppliers and bigger companies would not help with this. What has your experience been being a contract formulator or on the other end hiring a chemist. 

    - I would like to start small and on one product. I need an eyelash extension cleanser if anybody here is interested. It would pretty much be a water down surfactant mixture with a preservative.

    Thank you for anybody who is able to help me with some of these questions. I apologize that it is a long read.

    Pattsi replied 3 years, 9 months ago 6 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
  • TRobles81

    June 11, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Hello Katrina, 

    My name is Tania Robles, Freelance Formulations. I will be more than happy to answer your questions. 

    What is included in your product development service will depend on who you select as a formulator and should be discussed prior to signing a contract. It should also be listed in your service agreement. For instance, I would provide a client ownership of formulation (thats what they pay for) but also build in support services as needed. This may change on a client to client basis. 

    You should be able to provide a list of ingredients you definitely do want and definitely don’t want, however, you will need to trust the guidance of your chemist to consult you on what will actually work or not work. 

    Testing fees are generally sold separately because each product, industry or client requires different type of testing. Your MSDS and C of A’s are provided to you by the manufacturer when your product is manufactured. However, your chemist in product development should have a clear idea of who you are marketing to, including which countries you would like to sell in to be sure that the ingredients you’re using aren’t banned or unavailable. 

    Timelines for product development varies per formulator as well as per project. Our turnaround time is less than 1-2 months, however it just depends who you select. This is a question best answered by the formulation service you select. 

    Your suppliers are generally found in manufacturing and it is the manufacturers responsibility to make sure their raw material vendors are in compliance with their quality program. Some formulators will provide a list of preferred vendors along with your formula. However this will be something you should discuss with your formulator.

    Your restrictions on patented material is more of a concern on the raw material side of your project and not actually for your finished project. However, when using a patented raw ingredient, your chemist will get restrictions and availability information from their supplier. 

    When you hire someone to make your formula, PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT THE CONTRACT STATES THAT YOU HAVE FULL OWNERSHIP OF THIS FORMULA, FULL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. Especially if you choose to go directly to a manufacturer or private label company. This is my biggest mission in life to educate small businesses, young businesses and entrepreneurs on the importance and benefits of formulation ownership. 

    3k-10k is reasonable depending the type of project it is. Color project are typically more expensive. Your standard performance (chemicals) projects are the least expensive from my experience. Eyelash cleanser will probably be on somewhere around the lower range, depending on what type of additional tests and/or services you may need. 

    I have an email for you that can help you find a chemist as well as other support services you may need. legendarylaunchpad@icloud.com, business development company, great company I used them with several of my clients. Hope this response helped! Have a great day. 

  • Anonymous

    July 1, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    Hello Katrina! I found your post because I am looking for a good lash extension cleanser!  Are you any closer to a formula? Open to chat!

  • jones7216

    September 1, 2020 at 2:40 am

    Hello everyone,

    I have been doing some research in starting my own perfume line. In need of some help to find a Chemist who can help me find the right product for me. 

    There are a lot of fragrances out there to test, but I really want to mix it up myself so It can be my own formula and not anyone else. 

    I do not want to spend a lot of money since this will be my trial run. I would like to do everything under 2k if possible with something small.  
    How much do it cost to pay the Chemist, having the manufacture supply, finding vendors to supply the product.

    I need help, please

    Thank you

  • OldPerry

    September 1, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    It’s not exactly clear where you are in the process.  So, it looks like you want to start a perfume line.

    What do you mean when you say “I really want to mix it up myself..”?  Mix what up? The fragrance, the perfume, something else?

    If you want to “mix it up yourself” what do you want to hire a chemist to do?

    If you are looking to get your own exclusive fragrance your best strategy is to find a fragrance house who can work with you and make exactly what you want. Then you make an exclusive deal with them so you are the only one who can purchase that particular fragrance.  That’s what big companies do anyway.

  • ngarayeva001

    September 1, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    Well if you are looking for a perfumer who will help you to develop your own fragrance and make sure it’s within regulatory limits for allergens etc be prepared to pay way above 5k per one formula (it’s actually 10K in the UK if you want to own the formula). “Mixing yourself” doesn’t work with perfumes. It takes years of studying and a very special talent. 

  • jones7216

    September 2, 2020 at 2:41 am

    Hi Perry,

    Thank you, and this is why I am looking for help here. I am still learning and want to start my own perfume line. But I am needing help.

    When I say mixing it myself, I mean I want to own my own fragrance and not copy off someone else. Yes I want to hire a Chemist, to mix it up for me. I want to pick out the fragrances/scents myself and own the formula

    Does that make sense?

    Thank you for all your help!

  • qwerty

    September 2, 2020 at 9:44 am

    I might piggy back off this also and ask, if a chemist were to make a shampoo/conditioner formulation etc for somebody, how difficult is it once you have the formulation and everything to then go ahead yourself and start making it? 
    Obviously equipment and facilities is needed but do clients tend take over at this point or does it more often just end up in the hands of a developer/distributor to handle the rest in terms of mixing/manufacturing and sending out?  

  • Pattsi

    September 14, 2020 at 2:38 pm


    Do you mean you want to hire a perfumer to develop a complete formula
    and then you will make it at home?
    If it’s this way you may have to pay way more than 2k but you will get the full ownership of the formula.

    Or you can do as Perry mentioned above.

    exclusive deal with perfume house, they can make exactly what you want.
    And only you can have it manufactured, they can make a ready-to-sale product for you. This way you will have you own perfume.
    but if you want full ownership of the complete formula too you have to pay for it and it’s not cheap.

  • jones7216

    September 22, 2020 at 2:15 am

    Hi Pattsi,
    I want the Chemist to do the complete formula, I mean everything. Looking for the right people, Chemist to talk to who can help me with that.

    Thank you for your help

  • OldPerry

    September 22, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    @jones7216 - what you want is a Contract Manufacturer and maybe more specifically a Fragrance House. You can find those types of companies here.

  • Pattsi

    September 23, 2020 at 10:22 am

    @jones7216 - as Perry mentioned above.

    try contact perfume houses and ask if they can match your requirement. E-mail or phone call for business inquiry is free (mostly).

    It’s better than setting up your own plant when you are in early stage as you can save money for media ad or marketing. 

    Maybe start with a pilot lot about 100 pcs. then scale up later.

    Good luck. :) :) :)

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